According to Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevicius, the downing of the Russian Air Force Sukhoi SU-24 in Turkish air space is a “highly serious incident.”
However, Linkevicius echoed the views of Lithuania’s mission to NATO, that it is not entirely unexpected following repeated violations of the Turkish air space by Russia.
In his words, "this is the first time that NATO forces have shot down a Russian warplane."
"It is a highly serious incident, however, it would be unfair to say that it is entirely unexpected,” Linkevicius told BNS on the day of the downing - November 24, 2015.
“We have been aware for a few months that Russian warplanes have been intensively carrying out military actions in Syrian territory next to the Turkish border, and as we see from reports from Turkey, there have been repeated violations.
“Furthermore, Russian warplanes have been shot down, and a drone was shot down just recently,” continued Linkevicius. “Turkey has stated it would defend its air space in the event of similar cases in the future – it said it would shoot down the airplanes.”
The diplomacy chief urged to wait for more details of the incident from both Russia and NATO, following the North Atlantic Council meeting, scheduled for later on on November 24.
The minister noted that the consultations were initiated by Turkey to notify about the incident, however, Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty on threats to territorial integrity was not being activated.
According to the article, "the parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened."
"Blaming someone in advance would be too irresponsible, however, the situation is being escalated by Russia's air raids in the air space next to allied borders.”
Earlier on November 24, Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 warplane, which Ankara said was flying in the Turkish air space.
Russia has confirmed the downing of the aircraft, but has denied its presence in the Turkish air space.
On Oct. 16, Turkish troops shot down a Russian drone in Turkish skies.